The Dos and Don’ts of Riding Attire

Before you mount, make sure what you are wearing is appropriate for horseback riding.

From myhorseuniversity.com

It is important to know the appropriate attire for riding before you mount. Make sure you are safe the next time you ride. Journal photo.

It is important to think about what you are going to wear prior to working with or riding a horse, not only for comfort, but also for safety. This does not have to be expensive, and appropriate garments are not difficult to find.


Unless you plan to go to a horse show, just about any type of shirt is acceptable, as long as it fits appropriately and is not so large or loose so that it might catch on a piece of equipment or tree branch.

Long-sleeved button-up shirts are traditional in the western world, and they offer protection from the sun, tree branches and other elements. English riders often school in polo shirts or other fitted shirts that can be tucked neatly into their breeches.

If you are going out on the trail, you should consider wearing bright colors for visibility. Many riders like to wear vests when the weather gets cooler. Your arms and shoulders are less restricted in a vest, and vests lend themselves to layering for warmth.

There are winter coats designed for horseback riding that are roomy through the shoulders and have gussets so they spread over the saddle rather than tucking under your seat. Many have attractive reflective tape and patches for greater visibility out on the trail.

Are you new to the horse world? Learn how to safely tie a lead rope with AQHA’s FREE How to Tie a Lead Rope report.


Western and English riders usually take two different paths here. For English riders who have to post or move into two-point position, fitted breeches are the best choice. Patches of leather or other tacky material at the knees (and sometimes over the seat) improve stability in the saddle, and breeches are designed to fit inside the traditional English tall boots.

There is a huge variety of breeches to choose from, including light, inexpensive tights; heavier show-quality breeches; and ones lined with insulated fabric for winter riding.

Western riders most often choose jeans, and the tough denim fabric was designed to stand up to ranch work – or just trail riding through brushy territory.

What you will want to avoid in any case is pants that twist, wrinkle or bunch along the inside of your legs and knees. Some people like the extra level of protection and warmth offered by leather chaps. English riders who ride in paddock boots may opt for half chaps that go from the ankle to the knee.

Before you tie up your horse, make sure you are doing it safely. Download AQHA’s FREE How to Tie a Lead Rope Report to learn how to properly tie a lead rope.


Besides your helmet, your footwear is probably the next most important type of attire to keep you and your horse safe.

Although there is no official testing or standards for boots, you will want to find a pair with about a 1- to 1 1/2-inch heel and low tread. The heel will keep your foot from slipping through the stirrup when riding.

Gym shoes are not appropriate for riding a horse. The tread on many hiking and winter boots is too heavy and, in case of a fall, may jam in the stirrup. There are many different styles of boots, so choose whatever is comfortable, affordable and suitable for your type of riding. When working with or riding a horse, never, ever wear sandals or flip-flops, in case you are stepped on by your horse.